Twilight set in, leaving behind its orange residue across the horizon and the chirping was slowly fading away. The night sounds had started to take over the quiet landscape. The temple bell could be heard in the distance and the swirling waters tossed gently along the banks of the river.
He looked out of the window of his hut, it was almost dark. He walked across to the corner of his home and threw in a few things into his bag. Tossing a dark shawl over his shoulders he collected his Rudraksha beads and hung them around his neck. He quietly stepped out of his house and waving a sign of acknowledgement to the people around he walked down the street to the steps leading to the river. The ferry man was waiting, he was his only passenger to cut across the river to the other side that evening.
As darkness set in, he stared across the river. He could here the rumbling waters under the row as it tossed repeatedly into the waters. He watched the village lights light up like lamps in the darkness. He stared on to the other side. The cremation ground was active that night. There were two burning and the reflection of the pyres shimmered in the water. In the distance he could hear the temple bell echoing through the trees. As he neared the banks, he watched the wailing relatives as they bid goodbye to their departed beloved. He collected his things, and covering himself with his shawl, he got off the boat. He handed a few coins over to the ferry man and looking up at the flight of steps leading to the temple and started to walk.
He walked through the street leading up to the temple and bought a few hibiscus garlands along the way. Smearing red powder on his forehead he marched into the temple. People moved giving him way and stared long at him as he passed by. He almost owned the temple. He stepped into the sanctum and hung his bag behind the door. He slowly took off his shawl and kept it safely behind. And like lightning hits, from the silent world he had woken out of he took the arathi lamp and lit its wicks and like a man in trance he held up the flame to the Goddess and danced showing the light to her Divine presence, to her feet, to her sickle and to the corpse head hanging from her arm, he brought the light back close to her face, envisioning her waking up in those three red eyes that stared back at him.
Sacred syllables awakening the divine Goddess Ma Kalika resonated through the walls. Showers of fresh hibiscus adorned her shoulders. Pure water flowed down her thick black hair and a fresh red saree draped her otherwise naked self. She glistened in the light as he moved with his music, the fire getting brighter with every swirl threw shadows on the wall almost making it appear like she came to life and danced with him. The air was tense, the singing got louder, the drums resounded, the temple bell rang furiously and he danced with her shadow and almost embraced her with love. With every lamp he picked, she came back from the shadowy darkness of the room to bless the folk with this divine spectacle of terrific love, divine dance in blissful intoxication.
He laid down the last of the lamps, took in the warmth of the flame and turned to his audience showing them the light of divine love as he slowly walked out of the door. A couple of hours passed by and he has repeated his dance of love with the Goddess for the local folk to witness. It was the end of the evening, the crowd had trickled out of the temple and he silently bowed down to the Mother and whispered a few words in her ears. Then collecting his shawl and carefully taking his bag he closed the sanctum door leaving a single lamp lit in her chamber for the night.
The streets had gone dark, the people had retired for the night as he walked down to the river. But as he neared the flight of steps he took a dramatic turn to the right instead of heading for the ferry. In the darkness among the trees he walked sure footed into the shadows and waited near the small temple watching the last of the pyres burn. The shamshan ghat was silent, except for the crackling flames that ate into the corpses that lay lifeless covered in flames. The relatives were gone, the aimless onlookers were gone, it was just him and his garden in the night. He walked up to the pyre that had died out, dusting the ashes and looked through the remains and picked up the popped skull. He walked down to the river and washed it clean and came back carefully taking it with him. He headed straight for the Ashwattha tree that stood behind a small temple. He lit a lamp at the temple and touched the feet of the mother and taking his skull in his hand he walked to the other side.
He slowly unpacked his back, taking out a pouch of vermilion and some water, he made a paste and smeared it on the white head of the skull. He took out his lamp and wicks and lit a small light next to it. He undressed himself and folded his cloths to a side and clearing the ground, he sat in the middle and placed the decorated skull in front of him. Eyes closed he recited the sacred mula mantra to awaken the Goddess. He offered food and prayed to the Goddess. He closed his eyes and swung into japa, forgetting his world, forgetting his surroundings. The darkness came back to rule and in the silence, he slowly became conscious to the chill in the air, to the breeze in the leaves and as he went deeper into meditation he became aware of the power in the air, of the presence of the great Mother who had promised to visit him again. He spent the night in intoxicated dance, in intense sadhana as she visited him in his consciousness. Together they roamed the earth, in a different world, in a different realm locked in divine embrace.
In the early hours of the morning, he woke out of his trance, bowed to the Mother and got up from his seat. He walked down his silent garden to the river and took his sacred dip. Turning to the temple, he walked up and opened the Sanctum doors. He bowed to the Mother and started his routine of worship for the day as people slowly trickled back into the temple.